SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium’s mammoth 750kg saltwater crocodile, Pinjarra marked a decade of retirement in style with 40 retirees from retirement living and aged care provider Ryman Healthcare’s villages attending a croc-tail party to toast his remarkable life.
While ‘croc’tails and cakes were on the menu for residents from Ryman’s Weary Dunlop, Nellie Melba and John Flynn retirement villages, chicken was served up to reformed bad-boy Pinjarra.
Measuring in at just under 6 metres, the 65-year-old croc, one of the largest on display in Australia, has spent the past 10-years scaling back at the aquarium after outgrowing his home in the wilds of Queensland. In his younger days, Pinjarra, whose Aboriginal name means ‘place of soft grass and smooth water’ had a reputation for his veracious and expensive appetite, including reportedly devouring a $10,000 Braham bull.
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While conversation did not flow between Pinjarra and his human contemporaries, residents said they were pleased to see Pinjarra was enjoying retirement as much as they do.
Weary Dunlop Retirement Village resident Jim Garrie said the event was “amazing”.
“It’s been amazing to come to the aquarium and see Pinjarra in the stage of life that he’s in and to watch him being fed,” Jim said.
“They told me he might live to at least 100, so he’ll still be here for a while, but he should probably get the pension by now, he’s 65 so I guess he’ll get a card.”
After watching Pinjarra enjoy his anniversary feast residents were treated to a keeper talk which highlighted the importance of salties like Pinjarra to the diversity of wetlands.
Ryman residents observe Pinjarra in his retirement village.
As an apex predator, saltwater crocodiles prevent the degradation of ecosystems by preventing overpopulation. Like Ryman’s retirees, Pinjarra continues to live life to the full, helping the team at SEA LIFE Melbourne educate visitors on the ecological importance of the Saltwater Crocodile and the need for conservation. Saltwater Crocodiles faced near extinction in the 1970s due to poaching, however breeding programs and protection laws stabilised the population.
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarist Harrison Stephan said when it came to Pinjarra looks could be deceiving.
“Guests may be surprised to hear that Pinjarra is a real character, and whilst he may look menacing, he loves nothing more than a soothing hose down from his keepers,” he said.
“When he’s not busy splashing around, Pinjarra, like many retirees, can be found relaxing in his favourite warm spot in the shallows of his pool.”
The party in SEA LIFE’s croc café was a heart-warming celebration of older age and the importance of ensuring the golden years of all are filled with fun, comfort, and care.